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Existing home sales fall in July as new home sales surge – good news or bad?

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In an interesting twist, new home sales jumped unexpectedly in July, while existing home sales dropped unexpectedly during the same period, according new data released this week. So what gives? And is this good, bad, or neutral news for the real estate industry? Let’s explore.

This week, the U.S. Commerce Department reported new home sales surging 12.4 percent, hitting their highest level since October 2007, a year before the housing crash when new home construction was firing on all cylinders. Sales are up 31.3 percent from last year, but the pace of housing starts isn’t increasing as dramatically as sales, indicating that the sector hardest hit by the crash is recovering, but not necessarily enough to impact affordability levels or attract first time buyers (which remain below “healthy” levels).

There’s an inventory correction slowly under way fueling the new home sector, which is gaining momentum (helped in part by mortgage interest rates remaining historically low).

How new and existing sales compliment each other

The truth is that these new home sales are likely helped by tight inventory levels of existing homes for sale. In another twist, the median price for a new home actually slipped 0.5 percent from a year ago to $294,600 while existing home prices continue to rise. Uh oh, you’re thinking. Fret not, that’s good news – for markets to be healthy, they need more first time buyers, so this puts a segment of the market within their reach. That’s good news.

On the flip side, existing home sales actually fell in July by 3.2 percent, dipping for the first time year-over-year since last November, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says existing sales fell off track in July after steadily climbing the last four months. “Severely restrained inventory and the tightening grip it’s putting on affordability is the primary culprit for the considerable sales slump throughout much of the country last month,” he said.

“Realtors® are reporting diminished buyer traffic because of the scarce number of affordable homes on the market, and the lack of supply is stifling the efforts of many prospective buyers attempting to purchase while mortgage rates hover at historical lows,” Dr. Yun added.

Market is “undershooting its full potential”

The median existing home price rose 5.3 percent in the last year to $244,100 (marking the 53rd consecutive month of annual gains). Inventory rose 0.9 percent in July, marking 14 consecutive months of year-over-year declines.

“Although home sales are still expected to finish the year at their strongest pace since the downturn, thanks to a very strong spring, the housing market is undershooting its full potential because of inadequate existing inventory combined with new home construction failing to catch up with underlying demand,” adds Yun. “As a result, sales in all regions are now flat or below a year ago and price growth isn’t slowing to a healthier and sustainable pace.”

The share of first-time buyers was 32 percent in July, which is below last month (33 percent) but up from 28 percent a year ago. This again marks the importance of the intersection between new construction and existing sales.

#HomeSales

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The Real Daily and sister news outlet, The American Genius, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

NAR Reports

Home sales on the rise – don’t call it a comeback (okay, do)

(REAL ESTATE) Inventory levels continue to fall as prices rise, making for a competitive market. After a tough winter, February saw considerable gains in home sales.

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home sales

For years, inventory levels have been sinking, and prices have been growing, making the home buying process increasingly complex and sometimes discouraging. But after two consecutive months of declining sales, existing-home sales made a comeback in February, rising 3.0 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Sales are now 1.1 percent higher than February of last year. #GoodNews

Although home sales in the Midwest and Northeast saw a dip in this period, the South and West regions skyrocketed, boosting the national numbers.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist noted that “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizeable interest in buying a home in early 2018. However, even as seasonal inventory gains helped boost sales last month, home prices – especially in the West – shot up considerably. Affordability continues to be a pressing issue because new and existing housing supply is still severely subpar.”

Added Yun, “The unseasonably cold weather to start the year muted pending sales in the Northeast and Midwest in January and ultimately led to their sales retreat last month. Looking ahead, several markets in the Northeast will likely see even more temporary disruptions from the large winter storms that have occurred in March.”

Click to enlarge.

In February, the median home price rose to $241,700, a 5.9 percent increase from February 2017, and the 72nd straight month of annual gains. The average days on market fell to 37, down from 41 in January, and 45 last February. That’s what we call a competitive market.

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall comments on the difficulty first-time buyers are seeing in this competitive market. “Realtors® in several markets note that entry-level homes for first-timers are hard to come by, which is contributing to their underperforming share of overall sales to start the year. Prospective buyers should start conversations with a Realtor® now on what they want in a new home. Even with the expected uptick in new listings in coming months, buyers in most markets will likely have to act fast on any available listing that checks all their boxes.”

Regional performance varied, with sales in the West outperforming all other regions. While sales fell in the Northeast by 12.3 percent, and dropped 2.4 percent in the Midwest, they skyrocketed 11.4 percent in the West, and 6.6 percent in the South.

february existing home sales

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NAR Reports

Existing home sales surged in October, what’s next?

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Existing home sales rose in October despite continually tight inventory levels and rising home values.

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starter homes debt existing home sales

Despite the challenges of ongoing political uncertainty, extremely tight inventory conditions, and home values that continue to rise, existing home sales rose 2.0 percent in October, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

This marks the strongest home sales pace since June, yet are 0.9 percent below October 2016. October’s average days on market was 34, down from 41 days on this month last year.

The median price has risen 5.5 percent in the last year to $247,000 with October marking the 68th consecutive month of annual increases. Nearly half of all homes on the market in October sold in under 30 days.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist said, “While the housing market gained a little more momentum last month, sales are still below year ago levels because low inventory is limiting choices for prospective buyers and keeping price growth elevated.”

Added Yun, “The residual effects on sales from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are still seen in parts of Texas and Florida. However, sales should completely bounce back to their pre-storm levels by the end of the year, as demand for buying in these areas was very strong before the storms.”

Regional performances varied with sales rising in the Northeast by 4.2 percent, in the West by 2.4 percent, the South by 1.9 percent, and 0.8 percent in the Midwest.

Prices also varied depending on region, with the median price in the West rising 7.8 percent above October 2016 (to $375,100), 6.6 percent in the Northeast (to $272,800), 7.1 percent in the Midwest (to $194,700), and 4.6 percent in the South (to $214,900).

Dr. Yun expects conditions to remain competitive through the winter, but housing is experiencing a tremendous hanging chad right now – what will politicians do to the tax deductions that incentivize homeownership in the first place?

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, says the pending tax reform legislation in both the House and Senate is a direct attack on homeowners and homeownership, with the result being a tax increase on millions of middle-class homeowners in both large and small communities throughout the U.S.

“Making changes to the mortgage interest deduction, eliminating or capping the deduction for state and local taxes and modifying the rules on capital gains exemptions poses serious harm to millions of homeowners and future buyers,” said Mendenhall. “With first-time buyers struggling to reach the market, Congress should not be creating disincentives to buy and sell a home. Furthermore, adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt will raise future borrowing costs for our children and grandchildren.”

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NAR Reports

Sustained lull in signed contracts means pullback in home sales

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Existing home sales aren’t looking super hot this month, but it’s not the bad news that you’re thinking – let’s discuss!

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Existing home sales slide in June

Low supply has kept home sales muted, with existing home sales dipping 1.8 percent in the month of June, albeit 0.7 percent above June of 2016, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Midwest region is the current bright spot as the only area sales actually rose during this period.

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Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, says the previous three-month lull in contract activity translated to a pullback in existing sales in June.

“Closings were down in most of the country last month because interested buyers are being tripped up by supply that remains stuck at a meager level and price growth that’s straining their budget,” said Yun.

He added, “The demand for buying a home is as strong as it has been since before the Great Recession. Listings in the affordable price range continue to be scooped up rapidly, but the severe housing shortages inflicting many markets are keeping a large segment of would-be buyers on the sidelines.”

There’s a silver lining

“The good news is,” observes Yun, “that sales are still running slightly above last year’s pace despite these persistent market challenges.”

The median price for an existing home rose 6.5 percent over the last year to $263,800, surpassing May as the new peak, and the 64th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Housing inventory declined 0.5 percent from the previous month, and 7.1 percent over the last year. Average days on market rose one day from May to 28 in June, which is down from 34 days in June 2016.

Supply and demand challenges

First time buyers were 32 percent of sales in June, down one percent from both in May and a year ago. Yun says “It’s shaping up to be another year of below average sales to first-time buyers despite a healthy economy that continues to create jobs,” said Yun.

“Worsening supply and affordability conditions in many markets have unfortunately put a temporary hold on many aspiring buyers’ dreams of owning a home this year,” noted Yun.

Spicy sales in the Midwest

In the Midwest, sales rose 3.1 percent from May but remain unchanged from this time last year. The median price rose 7.7 percent in the last year to $213,000.

In the Northeast, existing home sales actually fell 2.6 percent, but are 1.3 percent above a year ago (the median price was $296,300, up 4.1 percent for the year).

The South saw a 4.7 percent dip in sales ((unchanged from a year ago) and the median price in the South was $231,300, up 6.2 percent from a year ago.

Sales in the West declined 0.8 percent but are 2.5 percent above June 2016. The median price in the West was $378,100, up 7.4 percent from June 2016.

#HomeSales

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